State of the School 1/22/2021: Hybrid Learning Update

January 21, 2021 | Thomas Postema

Head of School Tom Postema updates the community on the success of distance learning, announces the Change Makers Benefit and new quarantine protocols. Then he talks about learning that’s been happening throughout the school. The video also recognizes parents and older siblings for their help with distance learning. And there are some charming video clips of younger students being helped by parents and siblings at the end.


Hello Mustard Seed School Community!

I could not be more thrilled about the announcement last week that Abby Hall Choi will be the next head of school. I have worked closely with Abby for years and I’m confident in her ability to lead the school forward. I’m grateful that I’ll be able to retire knowing that you will be in good hands.

Speaking of next year: Re-enrollment season opens on February 1. We’re in the process of implementing a new database that will make re-enrollment more efficient. You will receive information from Ms. Sanders about how to access the new system and re-enroll. We’re looking forward to having you back in the fall.

The Change Makers Benefit to support Mustard Seed students is on-line this year! Since our community can’t be confined within the walls of an event space, we’re finding new ways to be together! So save the date for Friday, March 26th at 8 PM. It’s going to be a great evening. We’ll have more information for you as the event gets closer.

Online and in person, the learning continues. Kindergarten is starting a science study of light and will also begin Writer’s Workshop. Preschool students are working with clay and blocks and practicing writing the letters of their names. 

First grade students are examining the concepts of force, motion, and work as they consider how machines make our lives easier.  From their study of land transportation will emerge a new topic of exploration. The lives, words, and work of notable Americans such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and many others will help them understand the meaning of the word freedom. They will ask, “How have these people’s literal (by bus, train, or on foot) and figurative journeys impacted us? How can we continue to pursue the goals they worked for?

Second and third grade students are studying sound science. They’re having a fun time creating sounds with objects as they learn about the role of vibrations in making sound. 

Fourth and fifth grade continue to work on STEAM projects that they will share with their parents during next Friday’s parent-student evening. Sixth grade students are working on social justice essays. Seventh grade students are completing their history exhibitions. 

And eighth grade students are crafting their homilies. They are studying the life of Elijah to answer the essential question posed in Psalm 11: “when the foundations are being destroyed, what are the righteous doing?”

Be sure to ask your child what’s happening at school. 

Since I last addressed you, the severity of the pandemic in our region has increased. The state health guidelines have changed in response, especially in regards to school attendance.  

A clinical alternative diagnosis is no longer acceptable for a return to school. The NJDOH recommends that any child with COVID-19 compatible symptoms should not return to school until they have either received a negative test or they have completed an isolation period of at least 10 days since symptoms began and at least 24 hours without fever.  

Schools must still observe a 14-day quarantine. The NJDOH and Hoboken health department requires that students, staff, and teachers still quarantine for 14 days from school for all quarantine scenarios regardless of the results of a test. 

Thank you for all of the ways that you help to keep our community safe. With the new, more contagious variants of the virus, we know that proper mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing are more important than ever. I know that we’re all weary of it at this point, but it’s really important. Thank you!

I’m sure that Christmas break feels like a distant memory by now. I hope that you had a restful time and found ways to celebrate and connect with loved ones. Thank you for your efforts to make our two weeks of distance learning a success. Parents, you are extraordinary. And I want to say thank you to older siblings, too. Teachers saw a lot of older siblings helping younger students. You can see some examples at the end of this video! Distance learning went very smoothly and students were engaged. Even still, I’m happy to have students back in the building! 

I want to end today with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer that our Middle School students prayed on Inauguration Day.

Look graciously, Almighty God, upon this land. 

Where it is in pride, subdue it. 

Where it is in need, supply it. 

Where it is in error, rectify it. 

Where it is in default, restore it. 

And where it holds to that which is just and compassionate, support it. 

In your holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Fare thee well!


Thomas Postema

Head of School

Mr. Postema was the Head of School from Fall 2011 to Spring 2021, when he retired.

An educator for over 35 years, Mr. Postema taught math and was a school administrator at international schools in Japan and South Korea, as well as schools in the USA (New Jersey and Alaska). He taught at Mustard Seed from 1989-1991 when Mr. Cuervo and Mr. Johnson were MSS students!

As Head of School, Mr. Postema successfully led the school through the NJAIS accreditation process and the Together for Tomorrow endowment campaign, which raised over $3M to benefit MSS students. Mr. Postema loves to tell the Mustard Seed story and continues to be passionate about the mission even in his retirement.

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